Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Your Contraception Guide
Written by Hormone Health Associate Dr Tina Peers Consultant in Contraception and Reproductive Healthcare.
Not all contraceptives have to contain hormones.
If you have a contraindication to using hormones or would simply prefer not to use synthetic hormones used in many contraceptive methods, then please do consider an intrauterine copper device. There is one condition to this recommendation. As the copper IUD makes the lining of the uterus slightly inflamed, and thus unsuitable for implantation, (its main function is to actually kill the sperm as it is a spermicide) periods can be heavier and longer. Therefore, this method is not recommended for women who have heavy or painful periods already.
How long do they last and how effective are they?
The IUD is almost as effective as the IUS, typically fewer than 1 in 100 women will get pregnant in one year.
There are different types of copper IUD and therefore depending on which one you choose; it can last for 5 to 10 years. Obviously if it doesn’t suit you it could be removed at any time. The woman is in complete control of the method. Copper IUDs are certainly very convenient for women as it is another ‘fit and forget’ method.
How does it work?
Unlike the IUS, it does not reduce or stop the periods. The woman’s cycle continues and the periods generally become slightly heavier and slightly longer than they were prior to the fitting.
Are there any contra indications to these methods?
An allergy to copper would prevent this method from being an option or Wilsons disease which is a genetic disorder in which excess copper builds up in the body. Fibroids and a distorted uterine cavity is another potential contraindication.
How quickly would my fertility return to normal?
As soon as the copper IUD is removed a woman’s fertility would return to normal. We would recommend having at least one normal menstrual cycle without the IUD being present before trying to conceive.
How are they fitted?
The procedure itself is very straightforward, similar to a smear, but the device is inserted through the cervical canal into the uterus. It is a procedure that we can perform in the clinic. If you would like to try this method, please do book an appointment. Continue with your previous method of contraception until you come to the clinic so that we know you are not pregnant. If you’re using condoms, please abstain from intercourse from your previous menstrual period. If you have any symptoms suggestive of an infection or have had a new partner in the last 18 months, please arrange to have a sexual health screen prior to your appointment.
COVID19 has reduced access to many contraceptive services across the country impacting on women’s lives and reproductive health.
If you would like any advice, or to discuss your contraceptive options, please contact me at Hormone Health 92 Harley Street Clinic.
Dr Peers became a Consultant in Contraception and Reproductive Healthcare in 1996, and has years of experience managing complex contraceptive cases and helping women manage and maintain good health during and after the menopause.